Maharashtra on Thursday recorded 14,317 new coronavirus cases – the highest daily infection count this year – pushing the tally in the state to 22,66,374, reported the Hindustan Times.
The toll in the state climbed by 57 to 52,667, according to NDTV. With 7,193 patients discharged, the recovery tally rose to 21,06,400.
Earlier in the day, the Union health ministry had expressed concern about the surge in cases in the state. Maharashtra is the only state in India that has more than 1 lakh active cases.
“We are very worried about Maharashtra,” NITI Aayog member VK Paul said at a press conference. “This is a serious matter...don’t take the virus for granted.”
Paul said that coronavirus can come unexpectedly and on its own dynamics. “It also tells us that if we have to remain free of this virus with time, it is very important that all our armament – Covid-appropriate behaviour, containment strategy, readiness from the health point of view as well as vaccination – has to be brought in to facing this pandemic.”
He also suggested that the vaccination process must be intensified and prioritised in districts that are reporting a high number of cases.
At the press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said eight of the ten Indian districts that are the top 10 contributors to active cases are in Maharashtra. These are Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Thane, Mumbai, Amravati, Jalgaon and Nashik.
Amid the surge in cases, Maharashtra on Thursday imposed a complete lockdown in Nagpur from March 15 to March 21. Nagpur city had reported 1,513 coronavirus cases on Wednesday. All shops and establishments, except those which offer essential services, will be shut during this period, state minister Nitin Raut said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that the lockdown may soon be imposed in certain other places also to combat the surge.
From the beginning of the pandemic, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases in the country. While infections did drop for some time in September and October, they have surged again over the last few weeks. This has prompted authorities in various districts of the state to reimpose restrictions. On Monday, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said that the coronavirus situation in the state was “alarming” and permitted district administrations to decide on lockdowns.
Authorities in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district had on Tuesday imposed a “janata curfew” to be implemented between 8 pm on March 11 and 8 am on March 15. Thane district had on Monday announced a lockdown in 16 coronavirus hotspots till the end of the month to combat a surge in infections.